Boating Industry

October 2014

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October 2014 | Boating Industry | 45 /// Market Trends /// said Michael. "What happens is people get intro- duced to wakeboarding for the first time, people that maybe don't have access to lakes." He said their approach makes it easy for cable park enthusiasts to get out on the open water behind a boat. "They see the boats at the dealership and want to try it. There's a boat lake right there too, so they try it and they realize the boating experience is better for family and friends than anything else," said Michael. "That's why it's not competitive with what we do, because we do see a lot of people embracing the boating lifestyle who started out as cable riders." Tigé boats is also championing the more than 40 U.S. cable parks – up from just 25 in 2013. "We believe that the cable parks gives ac- cess to watersports that you wouldn't otherwise would have had access to in neighborhoods or cities – we back that entirely," said Gutierrez. Grabbing young people's attention in the cable parks will also push wakeboarding and wakeskating forward by simply giving kids a place to practice without the liability of a boat. Keeping the sport healthy holds attention and draws in more and more action sport enthusiasts. "If you look at the pro wakeboard tour, the junior pro division is very healthy – kids 14 to 18," said Michael. "Whenever you see a sport with growth at younger ages, you know that that's a sign of vitality." Giving that "wow" factor in wakeskating is a massive marketing win for watersports as a whole, even if it might not sell many boats. "Wakeskating is so hard for your average consumer, I don't think it sways a boat sale. But from a credibility standpoint, from respect from other industries and just acknowledging some- thing else happening behind a boat," said Guti- errez. "It keeps things interesting. We've had more wakeskate videos in our industry go viral than other video." Though the majority of wake sport pros have come from boating community, some have al- ready come from the cable parks. "The best evidence we have is Adam Err- ington, one of our pro riders, whose very first boat he ever owned was a sponsored Tige," said Gutierrez. "He started off on the cable, that's where he learned, that's where he got better." Watch for a lot more cable parks popping up in the U.S. in the coming years. "I expect other boat makers to buy cable parks in the future," said Meddock. "To have 100 cable parks in the United States within the next three to five years is not out of the ques- tion. I think there's more cable park under devel- opment than anybody realizes because they're being drafted and developed in secret." Skiing resurgence? For the most part, watersports has maintained a trajectory set several years ago, but one surprise is a hint that water skiing might be coming back after being all but forgotten in the wake of all the new towed activities. It might not be time to break out the cham- pagne, as Meddock with the WSIA explains. "Are they sliding back still? No. I think you'll find that most of the ski companies will gladly tell you they're seeing numbers they've never seen before," said Meddock. "I think it's fair to say the ski guys are celebrating." The shift may be due, in part, to the origi- nal skiing generation's kids finally able to drive the boat. "The generation that started waterskiing when it was the only option are now the generation

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